Saturday, February 5, 2011

"Why vocations programs don't work"

This is a great article by Fr. Damian Ference, which happens also to beautifully capture the mission of Kenosis: Teen Disciples for Love and Life.

Just a taste of the article:

The root of our current vocation problem is a lack of discipleship. Of course, a disciple is one who encounters Jesus, repents, experiences conversion and then follows Jesus. All too often those of us in positions of Church leadership presume that all the folks in the pews on Sundays, all the children in our grade schools, high schools and PSR programs, all the kids in our youth groups, all the men in our Men’s Clubs and all the women in our Women’s Guilds, and all the members of our RCIA team are already disciples. Many are not. (The same can be said of staffs and faculties of Catholic institutions.) Our people may be very active in the programs of our parishes, schools and institutions, but unfortunately, such participation does not qualify for discipleship.

If the root of our vocation problem is a lack of discipleship, then the remedy is to make more disciples, just as Jesus commanded. But how is this accomplished?


When young people come to know Jesus, they will develop a deeper appreciation for the Eucharist. And when young people finally find their identity in the Eucharist (and not a pizza party, bowling or laser tag), young people will naturally want to socialize and do service projects, because these activities will flow out of their discipleship. When their lives are formed by the self-giving love of Jesus in the Eucharist, they will want to make themselves a gift for others, and their service projects will take on new meaning as acts of justice. Once young people become disciples, they will want to come to Mass, to spend time at the parish, to serve those in need, to gather for recreation, and to read good books and articles about the faith, and to really help build the Kingdom of God. But none of this can ever happen without the most foundational, and often forgotten, principle of discipleship.

Fr. Ference is right. Many vocations programs aim to recruit. But if a vocation is a call from God (and the word itself comes from the Latin "to call"), then a true vocations program will lead young people to hear God's voice more clearly. This involves being Christ's disciple.

Read the whole article.

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